Sunday, December 29, 2013

Where Will I Be Looking to Invest in 2014

I am still very Bullish on the U.S. economy and am also increasingly looking for an economic boost for Europe too.

With almost six years of an economic downturn behind us, since the collapse of the financial markets in 2008-9.

My theory is that people are innately positive creatures, we cannot remain negative for an extended period. So it seems to me that Europe will pull up more strongly during 2014, and as it does the people of Europe and the United States will slowly increase spending and overall consumption will rise.

As a result of this I am looking to move some of my reserves to consumer goods manufacturing stocks, with a small back-up in European financials.

This is a risky move, but I am only backing my hunch with my "Silly Money" fund. About 5% of my portfolio.

All the rest of my funds are staying in broad market stocks and bond funds with a strong position in rail road companies, I own Union Pacific and CSX stock, these are needed for getting goods across the US to ports for import and export and I also look to consumer staples to hold strong support for the year.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Can We Beat the Market?

As investors we often  hear talk about "beating the market." It has almost become a holy grail for many, but can we really beat the market?

Do I as an investor even want to beat the market?

It would be nice to earn consecutively high amounts of interest on my money, don't get me wrong, but beating the market is not one of my goals. I aim to earn more on my investments than the rate of inflation. So I am generally happy most of the time.

Also to be contrarian, I also love stock prices to fall. A falling stock price in a falling market can mean a bargain price. A falling stock price in a stable or rising market can mean you just need to get away from that stock pretty darn quickly.

Beating the market means I win,. For me to win someone has to lose. That someone has to be you.

We are all the market. You make as important a contribution to my beating the market as everyone else. In the long run I cannot beat all of you often enough to claim that I consistently beat the market. I do however, come in the upper return levels often enough so as to make me happy. Returns this year for me are above inflation andmy cash balance is nicely placed for the coming year.

Can we Beat the Market, yes, I have done it a couple of times in the past thirty years. My method then was mainly to stick all my money in one hot stock. Scarey, especially when the hot stock turns colder than an iceberg in deep space, and falls to nothing meaning that I beat the market at losing too.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

As the Year Comes to an End

As this year of 2013 comes to an end, I am very happy with my investments and life in general.

In October I received my first Guide dog from Guide Dogs for the Blind. Yes folks, in the interest of full disclosure I am a blind investor.

A walk down the street for me was once a genuine random walk, now I just put my dog in harness and let his nose sniff out the good stocks.

No, not really. I am blind and do have a new guide dog named Leif. But he does not help me with my investments.

I am however very happy about the situation as it stands in my financial life. With additions of cash and increases in the market my financial base this end of year looks to have improved about 320% over the same time last year.

All in all a nice end of year report from my brokers leaves me very happy and hopeful for a prosperous year for us all next year.

Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Half Year

As this first hald of the year passes, I am happy with my portfolios.

The gains of 2012 have held strong. The recent fall in the S&P has taken away some of the first five month gains which I had, but over the months I had taken some profits and rebalanced my accounts at least three times.

So now I have some loose change available to invest in stock as we go into the third quarter.

I believe we will have a rough couple of months until September begins. A volatile market with lots of good opportunities.

At the end of the third quarter we will see a rise towards the end of the year maybe up to the same levels we saw in May. That is just my guess, and unless I change my opinion it will be the framework upon which I build my second half of the year financial plans.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Uncertain Times

For the past few days market reporters have been talking of volatility and uncertainty in the markets.

OK so if you are frightened of volatility and uncertainty, if you want certain profits and easy money. What are you doing in the Stock Markets anyway?

You cannot expect certainty at anytime within the stock market. If it were a certain bet it would be no fun.

To paraphrase good old Ben Franklin the "only certainties in life are death and taxes"

Prepare for a nice bumpy ride till at least November as the markets will fluctuate for a few weeks, thensettle to a rise towards the middle of the final quarter and with a final upward bound at Christmas.

Basically the markets have returned to a "normal situation" this year following old patterns of rise and fall. I am still in the market because I see good returns in the next few months.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Back to the DRIP

With the fall in the market over the last week I am looking to adjust some of my programs.

As markets rose I switched from using DRIP's (Dividend Reinvestment Plans) to taking dividends on my higer paying stocks.

Stock prices were just too high to warrant buying and reducing the dividend yield. So better to take the cash and wait on the sidelines till some of the prices began to come back and dividend yields rose again.

We are now entering the region where many of those dividend yields are coming backto looking very attractive to me again.

Yeilds are coming up on some of my stock to above 6% and so as this month is mid year and both the second quarter dividend for many stocks as well as this week being a paying week for many monthly dividend paying stocks I am putting back Drip plans into force for the month.

We will see if prices rise again at the end of the month if I will continue the strategy for July and August too.

So there will be little cash entering my funds this month. I am going all in on DRIP's for the hugher yields.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Are You a Whig or Conservative?

Todays stock markets can trace their existence back to the mid 18th Century. The era when men met in coffee houses and read the latest news from the new fangled newspapers of the day.

They gambled and drank coffee or chocolate and talked of politics and philosophy.

From the melee of coffee houses rose stock exchanges, insurance houses and the two party system.

Call them whig or Toriy in their day or bulls and bears today. A conversation between these two sides of the argument still revolves around the same idea.

For the Whig or Bull, things are better now than they have ever been. Buy now because things will be even better tomorrow.

For the Conservative, Tory or bear things are only marginal right now but tomorrow will bring disaster as we face the punishment we deserve for our folly.

Be you a bear, or be you a bull. You will share many of the values of your whig and Tory ancestor.

To be honest there is little new in this market and nor will there be in any future markets. The whigs will look forward in hope, the bears will sell in fear.

Whig or Conservative we all stand on the right side, most of the time.

Friday, May 10, 2013

ESPN Moves in Britain

Early this morning I caught a nice little snippet of information on Bloomberg TV.

The British communications giant BT (formerly British Telecom ) announced a new sports service for its customers.

The service will be free to existing BT Broadband subscribers and just 15 GBP for paying subscribers, the service will begin on August 1, 2013.

Service will be available  through BSkyB digital services, BT's Infiniti service or on streaming broadband via the internet.

There will be 3 channels BT1, BT2 and most importantly from my point of view an ESPN channel.

ESPN network is owned by Disney Corporation (DIS)

I am an owner of Disney stock and have been for several years.

This move tying in with BT to provide an additional service to the UK beginning this Fall will add to ESPN income stream from mid way through the third quarter of this year.

In Britain sports are a major interest and ESPN's expertise will be well suited to the large customer base of BT.

While it may not impact massively on Disney itself it seems that the House of the Mouse just keeps delivering good news lately.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Back In the Market

For the past several weeks I have been sitting back and allowing my cash reserves to build again. I have done this by a mixture of cash dividends, stopping several of my dividend reinvestment options as stock prices rose and adding a little extra cash as I had some left over at the end of the month.

It doesn't take long to build a good cash reserve that way and so now I am in a position to go out and buy some new stock.

My current policy of maintaining bonds and some dividend stocks has served me well. My market exposure has been mostly solidly within the US with only a small margin overseas, mostly in Emerging Nations ETF stock.

Recently one of the most interesting areas of potential has looked to be Israel.

I have seen a great deal of talk about that nations potential, a major innovator rather than producer, Israel enjoys the benefit of having a global demand for many of its products but little internal production concerns. If the Israelis can create a product, then other nations often beat a pathway to their door to buy the rights to produce the product for them.

Licensing products can be very lucrative for the licensor.

I am therefore thinking of dipping a toe in Israel's waters with the addition of the iShares Israel Fund. (EIS ) The EIS Fund holds a basket of Israeli stocks, from banks to chemicals and technology companies.

One thing that is a limiting factor for me is that this ETF only pays a semi-annual dividend in June and December. it is at a high point at the moment in the mid $40's range and so I will earmark it for a buy when the price falls a little after the June dispersion of dividends.

In the long term I am looking to put about 5% of my portfolio into overseas ETF's and this will be my first foray into that arena, though there is always a risk in Middle East stocks, I don't see the risk in these Israeli stocks as being a major factor as there seems to be with European stocks at the moment. By the end of the year I think we will see a more stable environment in Europe and so a chance to build a more secure footing on those markets too.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

On the Rails

As you may know from other posts I am in favor of railroad stocks in the current economic climate.

Yesterday I had to use the train to travel to an appointment. My Amtrak train was delayed by fifteen minutes.

This may come to some as a cause to complain. For me it turned into a research opportunity.

The cause of the delay was the movement of three very long and full Burlington Northern and Santa Fe freight trains. Two were heading south through Central California, possibly to Los Angeles and San Diego. The third train was equally as long as the other two, stacked to double capacity on all of its cars with lots of CSX containers. Possibly bringing goods up to Northern California to be distributed across the mid-west and Eastern seaboard.

Just a few months ago, it was rare to see one long freight train as large as these, I estimate a mile long each, and when you did see a freight train it often had dozens of empty cars.

Of course three full trains a recovery, doesn't make. But with the visual evidence of goods moving and rail companies being able to move lots of goods at lower costs I am still happy to invest in railroads.

For the requirement of disclosure, I hold stock in Union Pacific Railroad (UNP) and CSSX (CSX).

So as you walk around or drive, keep an eye on trends you never know what opportunities for research lie in plain sight.

Friday, March 15, 2013

No Talk of Highs

I was struck this morning by how little news there is of the recent Wall Street Highs.

The markets fall and it is headline news on every television channel as pundits let fly on where, When and how the market is about to fall to a disaster.

Here we are at dizzying highs and not a twitter from local and barely a tweet from national TV, apart from CNBC and Bloomburg.

Last October and November after sufdfering a stroke, I was recouperating at home. A friend called in everyday and he is a bit of a nervous type when it comes to investing, we would watch the financial channels, and on down market days he would clamour and fuss,

"Everything's Falling!"

I would just respond, "So maybe I'll find something to buy."

Its all very comforting though. Word hasn't leaked out yet that there is money to be made on the exchanges. Why do I say that?

When word gets out everyman, woman, child with their dogs, cats and hamsters will be investing again. The markets will grow bubbles and burst amid more tears and laments about how dangerous it is to invest in the stock markets.

Ah the cycle of the markets. Enjoy the quiet while it lasts.

The silence if innocence until the talk of Highs leaks out and we start the merry-go round again.

Thanks for reading. Do you have any thoughts or comments on this post. Please leave a comment below.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Going Financial

For a couple of years now I have looked at Technologystocks as a series of reasonable investments. Apple (AAPL) proved pretty successful, Qualcomm (QCOM) was ok I got in and out with a little profit and finally I held some Microsoft (MSFT).

Microsoft was actually a reasonable performer over the last three years I built a good holding but lately it was a little lack lustre. So looking around I decided to Sell out of my last stock in a Tech company. So I needed somewhere to park the cash for a while.

I have mentyioned my previous almost disastrous holding of Bank of America (BAC) I began investing there in 2006 for the then dividend of 50 cents per share. The investment at that time left me with average buying prices in the $50 region.. A lot of cash was tied up in an almost worthless stock a couple of years ago.

I began buying additional stock in BAC at the $5 level and this brought my averages down to the $20 then as I bought more the average has come down past $15.

Well I decided to park the Microsoft cash in Bank of America. This actuall doubled my holding and has left me with an average purchase price at just above $14.

I think this is a reasonable level to be able to take a chance at getting some of my cash back. BAC could even reach #14 by the end of this year if we only assume a 15% increase in its price. I think it can do that easily.

From there as I call back my cash I am considering buying into a Tech ETF such as the SPDR Technology ETF (XLK). Technology is getting to be a tough call with all the global corporations fighting for market share. I could not call Apple (AAPL) or Samsung, Microsoft or Apple. Qualcomm or Samsung or Intel. A tech ETF will give me a more widespread risk on an important area for my portfolio.

Intil then. I am out of Tech and going Financial.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

End of First Quarter 2013 in Sight

Well, this year is flying, must be I am getting old. Or it may just be excitement from all the highs on the markets in the last week.

As I woke this morning my stock ticker on my phone was showing a sea of red in all areas except financials.

I think we will seee more volatility in the markets in the next couple of weeks as the quarter ends and the large institutional buyers lock in those lovely profits from the rise  in the markets this year.

This means a lot of short term swings for everyone but it will settle come May.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

New Highs For the Dow. Where to go?

Today saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index of the top thirty companies in the US clase at an all time high of 14,296.

This is the second time the Dow has created new highs this week and the S&P is close behind pushing close to its old high made in September 2007.

So are we in for another crash or is this the start of a massive Bull run.

Probably neither. The massive Bull run is an ongoing phenomenon. It has been running for almost four years now. Since those dark gloomy days of March 2009 we have seen one of the fastest recoveries in any stock market, some 48 months from the low to match the previous highs of the prre crash market.

One sobering thought however is that this new highest ever high comes  less than a week after the US Government failed to act on the predicted disaster of sequestration. That policy of get nothing done was claimed by the Democrats to send the US and World economies into an immediate crash dive. Instead the markets hardly blink.

The whole deal will probably turn out only to be a propaganda disaster for the Democrats who see the world full of hungry wolves at every turn. They cry warnings of impending catastrophe and then settle back to let the dust settle.

This time though the markets and business have called the politicians bluff. The markets did not crash on a whisper or even a shout.  The markets merely showed their boredom at political fuss and feathers and just went on their own merry way.

Should we buy in a high market?

Of course. Stock picking is the watch word. A high market does not mean there are no bargains to be found so stay on the hunt for good stocks which offer good management, good income streams and good prospects for growth and dividends.

High value markets just mean you need to be careful. Sequestration will hit several sectors such as defense and large construction projects. Damn we really do need a better railroad system  and roads here in the US but guess we'll have to stick with a slow train to nowhere and the pot holes for another half century or so.


One That I Missed

Just about one year ago a relative of my wifes got all excited about one particular stock. Smith & Wesson Holding Company (Nasdaq  SWHC). At the time they were trading at just above $5.30. they were of interest to me. They make and wholesale guns and a variety of weapons, so would appear on the face of it to generate lots of lovely cash.

At that time though sales were relatively flat, there was no dividend and quite a debt load with uncertain prospects. 

My wifes aunt  was quite bullish though but I backed out gracefully saying it wasn't for me.

This week however Smith & Wesson posted massive sale and stock prices topped the $10 mark, though they have now fallen back.

According to Bloomberg TV this morning Smith & Wesson had a exceptional third quarter ending January. Sales of guns rose following the school shootings in Connecticut in December and the subsequent calls for federal gun control.

The main reason I can see for my missing this particular boat is my personal ignorance of the market for guns.

Not being an American by birth and not being immersed in a gun culture. I didn't see the calls for gun control as a positive for a company which sells guns, in fact it is a definite negative. But then I ignored the love affair many Americans have with the Second Ammendment and the right to bear arms.

In this case I missed out on an important facctor. The emotion of panic can make some people run out and buy some remarkable things if they believe they won't be freely available in the near future.

Would I buy SWHC today? No, I missed that boat and it may be a short lived boost in sales.

But it makes the point that knowing all aspects of the market is important to investors.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Proceeds of Heinz Sale.

Thank you Mr. Buffett for forcing my hand to sell out of H.J. Heinz (HNZ)

Looking around a lot of the stock market I was unsure about investing in food production stocks. A few weeks ago there was a rumour that Mr. Buffett was looking at Kraft Foods (KFT) that I am sure was only a rumour and the purchase of HNZ was the real food company purchase. Anyway Kraft looks expensive to me. I have some concerns with the whole food production sector in the wake of the Heinz purchase. So I stepped aside from Kraft Foods. For the time being.

A nice little area though for me was Barclays Preferred Stock ETF.

As you may know I love those ETF's that return a monthly dividend, and the Barclay US Preferred  Stock ETF is currently just over $40 and paying an annualized rate of about 5% yield.

No too shabby, I estimate a monthly return of about 17 cents per share in dividends.

The dividends do vary a little from month to month but I like the return so opted to buy into Barclays US Preferred Stick ETF (PFF) for the shortish term, not less than a year. Then to reassess the situation in February 2014.

The sale of HNZ was forced by the purchase of HNZ by a consortium led by Warren Buffett' Berkshiew Hathaway and the Brazilian owners of the Burger King chain announced last week.

I do now own PFF stock, this is not an endorsement of that stock, I am not a financial advisor and you should examine the purchase of any stock very carefully to assure yourself of the risks and possible rewards. If in doubt consult a tax professional or your accountant before making adjustments to your stock portfolio.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I Hate Warren Buffett

What is it with Warren Buffett?

For many he is the guru of investing. We lesser investors are to look for investments just as he would.

Look for strong brands. Look for strong income strams. Look at continuing profit streams and buy the stock.

I do all the things suggested by Buffett's followers.

There is however a big danger for following such rules. When you see a company that Buffett might like you may just find yourself bought by Buffett.

Over the past couple of years I have been afoul of Buffett twice. First Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF) anyone who has read my other posts know I love trains. Maybe I was a deprived child never getting that toy railroad for Christmas. But trains are magical, they move lots of goods across country for little cost. Generating cash.

I saw BNSF as a good deal in 2006, Buffett jumped in a couple of years later. Bought it and took my income stream from the market.

Now he looks around and sees the world of tomato ketchup as prime for taking private. Whoops who makes the world's most popular Ketchup. H.J. Heinz (HNZ) bang. Buy it, take it private and bag it. My foresight in buying Heinz back in 2006 when it was $46 was a great moment.

My saddest moment this last week was seeing the shadow of Buffett fall over HNZ. Another income stream bites the dust.

I wish Buffett would just be nice and leave these companies public. I love to invest the Buffett way. It is my way in all cases except one.  I don't buy out the company and then steal it away for myself.

Mr Buffett leave some pickings for the rest of us. Otherwise we will only be left with Facebook (FB) and other companies that you don't inderstand.
If you leave me with no choice in the markets then I might really start to hate investing the Buffett way.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ten Commanmdents of Investing #1

1. Do Not fall in love with any stock.

You  read about a stock. It sounds wonderful and after doing your own research you decide to buy. As you buy the stock starts to rise. It rises and rises for a few weeks, months, a year.

The stock becomes the jewel of your portfolio. Ypu look at it sweetly everytime you look at your brokers portfolio page. The stock is praised  in magazines, on television , everywhere stocks are discussed.

You find that you smile with recognition at the sound of its ticker symbol.

Then suddenly the stocks rise stalls.

The prive teeters.

Its price begins to fall. You remain loyal, you know it will come back.  Pennies become quarters, quarters to dollars. You hold and feel physical pain for your beloved stock. You hold and hold.

The price free falls and hits bottom with a bump.

You cannot sell, you feel the stock is unjustly mistreated. You know it will reach the highs again, but no-one else will buy.

You have made a fatal investing mistake. You fell in love with a stock.

Avoid this costly mistake by setting goals for a stock. Those goals can be a percewntage price rise. A percentage price fall. Set automatic sell triggers if you must but always keep your emotion out of your investing.

Happy Valentines Day. Love your sweetheart not your stock.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

First Quarter 2013 Rebalancing

Wow! January was exciting wasn't it?

We had some big days on Wall Street and my main portfolio got out of balance again in no time.

My two main stocks that caused the unbalancing were my old favorite ING Prime Rate Trust (PPR) and a newbire eBay (ENBAY).

I had taken a knife to my PPR stock at the beginning of January lopping a good third of my holding off.

With some of the proceeds of that I jumped into EBAY. Then a nice pick at $50.00. That $50 jumped to $57 last week so looking at the reason for buying to generate a new holding by its own stock increase I am pulling the trigger on EBAY pulling out my original investment. That will leave me with some nice EBAY shares that cost me the equivalent of a few pennies.  Thank you EBAY for your kind gift.

With that cash I am moving back towards some real estate. I like Cohen and Steers Realty Stock (ICF) Before the crash of 2007-8 it traded at over $100 it got hit very badly during the crash and I admit missing seeing its steady crawl back up from the deepest well of despair. Now it is about the $80 mark and getting pretty close to my average cost price so I will round off my holding in that just to add real estate to a major portion of my portfolio.

I also like corporate bonds too. Barccalys Corporate Bond stock (AGG) has given me a good return in dividends every month for several years now. I use AGG to generate cash income for portfolio every month so see little harm building a little more of a holding, though at current prices I see more of a downside risk to the stock than an upward reward.

This risk I have offset with a High Yield Dividend basket (IDV) . Again this is an addition to a long term holding I think dividends are going to steadily increase from this stock as the economy begins to speed up. It is a long term hold and another monthly income generator.

All in all I think that this rebalancing will work out this time.  My policy of using stock rises to give me a free or virtually free stock worked spectacularly with eBay.

Investing is fun when it works out this way.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Would you advise someone to invest in stocks?

A few days ago someone asked me if in all honesty I would advise someone to invest in stocks after the 2007-8 Crash.

Taking a second to decide I said "Yes. Definitely."

The person was taken aback and unleashed a tirade on my stupidity. He had held friends hands as they cried at the latest news from Wall Street. Stocks free falling wiping out their worth as the panicked to sell during the crash. The story is probably familiar to many of you. The market was great as they rose. But vicious when they turned bad.

This person was too emotional in his belief that markets are bad. They are neither good nor bad, they just exist.

The questioner held the very hands of friends whom he had encouraged to buy a "sure thing",, he was embarrassed that they had been hurt, but had he even asked the friends if they were considering the risk?

No he hadn't. He had promised rising returns and an endless bounty. No risk.

How can someone forget that there is always a risk in investing? We do get a reward. I stopped buying for myself in late 2007 while the stocks were free falling, but by late 2008 I was happy to jump back in and begin buying again.

Some of my stocks bought before the crash were almost penny stocks, Bank of America for instance. I lost hundreds on my initial investment of BAC but after the dust settled it was easy to step back in and build a greater investment. Now the average cost and the market price at about breakeven levels. I won in the Crash.

The name of the game is to make money. My portfolio returned 7% in 2012, not as much as the market in general, the S&P returned about 12%. But my 7% by far outweighed the 0.1% earned by my best paying CD at my local bank.

Why then would I not say "Yes. Definitely"? When asked the question. "Would you advise someone to invest in stocks?"

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Apple loses it's Shine

Boy! When the market turns on a stock it really turns.

Do you remember just less than a year ago analysts at this price for Apple stock (aapl) were crying buy, buy, buy. 

The current levels of less than $500 per share are actually still attractive. I personally sold all but a rump of Apple stock after New Year. That followed a sale in October as the stock fell from its high.

I had some leeway as to when to sell as I had average price levels of $350 per share so I still made some money.

At the moment I will hold back my few remaining shares are held at an average price of $290, if Apple get below thatI would be in for a buy anyway, unless there is some major calamity to make me step away.

Last year analysts saw prices for Apple at $1,000 per share, today they are selling off like yrsterdays french fries.

The last few weeks has been a perfect example as to why an investor should diversify. If you had all your money in Apple and had bought higher than the mid $400 level you would be hurting badly.  No one will call this a bubble, but it was and the bubble on the stock has definitely burst.

Apple as a company still appears to have great prospects, if management doesn't panic and begin to chase the stock.

Keep the brand as an aspirational brand, don't go down market.

Keep a pipeline of genuinely new goods coming forward. Don't re-hash old ideas as improvements.

Don't play a blame game at the top. Firing board members and wailing a long lament.

If Apple does ANY of these things, I would be out of the stock at all costs. If they keep a cool head there will be talk again of the $1,000 stock price in a year or two, though  this shock may weaken investor confidence for quite a time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bloomberg TV or CNBC?

As an investor information is important to me.

But where to turn for good information  that is a big question.

For me the answer actually came in hospital in the Fall of 2012.  I did not have my phone with me, nor did I have a watch so telling the time was difficult. Regular stations on the TV do not give regular time updates and skimming the stations one day I came across Bloomberg TV.

Not only did they tell me the time every half hour or so but I found their news coverage of the markets more interesting than my usual fare on CNBC.

Bloomberg though it does sometimes seem to focus upon its own magazine editorials reported items in a less catastrophic way.  CNBC often tended to the "sky is falling, sell now" style of reporting.

CNBC reports are also full of  "tips". " buy tjis now" "sell this immediately." Bloomberg has less of this kind of reporting.

One particular item that took my eye last year was a five part piece, a series of reports which showed operations on the Union Pacific Railroad (UNP) There was some financial news on the company but, for a train lover, lots of great footage of the reporter riding the trains, interviewing the rolling stock managers in marshalling yards. OK fun stuff, but also valuable information if the rolling stock manager tells you that they are moving X amount of goods more this quarter over the last years movement. You learn alot watching trains.

CNBC is tied to the studio and reporters seem to drive for the tip without any back-up for the investor to gain crucial information.

For me now Bloomberg TV is the main source of information on a daily basis.

You can also log into Bloomberg TV through the iPhone and iPad app available at the Apple Appstore

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Rebalancing the Accounts.

Looking at my accounts yesterday I was left stunned and scared. In one account just one stock was dominting the account with 33% of the value. That if anything is a red flag to re-balance your account if ever I knew of one.

ING Prime Rate Trust was a nice little earner in 2011-12, it had grown from less than $5 to over $6.20 in eighteen months and as such had sucked much of my value into that one stock.

Yesterday I chose to re-balance the account by taking some profit from ING Prime Rate Trust (PPR) selling one third of my holding.

PPR is still a good cash generating dividend stock paying7% but it was just too much value in a single stock for my nerves.

The proceeds of the sale went back straight into stocks again.

Disney (DIS) is the entertainment and television conglomerate that owns ESPN and is doing streaming deals left and right at the moment. I added some stock of DIS to an existing hold position.
I also moved on XLV the Healthcare exchange traded fund. With security in the Affodable Care Act it seems likely that medical insurance will prosper in the coming few years and also medical praticioners and suppliers will benefit. XLV cover all these groups rather than the riskier one stock choice.

My third stock pick for the re-balanced cash was XOP the oil and gas exploration exchange traded fund. Again this was chosen because it limits the risk of choosing a bad stock in an are where I have little knowledge

Monday, January 7, 2013

Looking Muni?

This weekend I was looking over some of my investments and looked at my Muni stocks.

They have risen to the $111.25 level, a good return in that I bought at the $101 region and they have been giving me a good return too. Around 2% which equates to around 4% if you allow for taxes, Muni stocks often carry tax free status, though this is possibly in question as Washington DC continues to struggle with their finances.

This is leading me to question whether to hold or sell my muni stock.  Hold it and face the loss of attractive returns in a low yield market or hold and face losing cash when and if the dividends attract taxation.

EEEk. Not that old dilema again. Take the profit or face a possible fall from a great height. The investors eternal dilema. Witth this I don't want to do the old fatal trick and fall in love with this stock, but the returns are still good.

As well as some DRIP investing on the muni stock itself the monthly returns have boosted my cash flow to fuel purchases of lots of other stock.

I will hold for the moment but keep an eye on D.C. for their moves.